Trial to resume Monday
FAIRFIELD — The state finished calling witnesses mid-morning Thursday in the Jefferson County first-degree murder trial of Tyler Webster.
The defense will continue its case Monday.
After the jury was excused from the courtroom, defense attorney Michael Adams asked for a judgmental acquittal, saying it was the state’s burden to prove first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt, and the evidence presented had not been sufficient.
State prosecution attorney Denise Timmins said the state had sufficient evidence and asked the judge to overrule the request.
The Honorable Myron Gookin, hearing this case, did overrule the request. Two more experts took the witness stand for the prosecution before the state rested.
Darwin Chatman, a criminalist specializing in latent fingerprints with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and Dr. Michele Catellier, associate medical examiner in the state office, testified.
Chatman found a latent fingerprint on the .45-caliber semiautomatic Sig Sauer handgun identified as the weapon used by Webster, 33, to shoot Buddy Frisbie, 32, Aug. 25 in Jefferson County. Chatman said the fingerprint, located slightly above and behind the trigger, matched known fingerprints of Webster.
The state published photos overhead in the courtroom for the jury to see, showing Chatman’s marking the gun and the fingerprint visible after being treated in the lab to show fingerprints.
Catellier was the medical examiner on shift Aug. 27 when Frisbie’s body was sent to Ankeny for an autopsy.
Through questions from the attorneys, Catellier said Frisbie was 72 inches long (6 feet tall) and weighed 191 pounds in the body bag. Five to 15 pounds should be allowed for the weight of the body bag and clothing, she added.
Photos taken during autopsy were projected overhead for the jury in the courtroom; some family members left the room prior to that.
Catellier explained, and the photos showed, one gunshot entry wound to Frisbie’s center, upper lip and one to his right cheek. Some of his teeth were visible in the photos of his lip, and it was obvious some teeth were missing.
“Some of his teeth had been recently traumatically removed,” said Catellier. “The bullet jacket was recovered in the back of the neck.
“The bullet went through the upper lip, and upper and lower teeth were dislodged. The bullet was imbedded in the spinal column.”
She was asked if this was the fatal shot.
“With more than one injury, it is hard to say if one injury was enough to cause death,” said Catellier. “There was blood in the spinal canal and blood along the brain and his brain was swollen. Some people with similar injuries have been known to recover; others have died.”
The right cheek wound was located between Frisbie’s eye and mouth.
“This bullet went through the back, upper neck,” said Catellier.
Another photo showed the exit wound, and she explained the site was washed and shaved before the photo was taken for clearer visibility.
“The cause of death was gunshots, the manner of death was homicide, based on scene investigation results and injuries on the body,” said Catellier.
Catellier was the first state’s expert witness Adams chose to cross-examine.
“Did you find a carpet knife, or a pocket knife, in Frisbie’s trouser pocket? And was his belt undone, his trousers unzipped?” Adams asked the medical examiner.
She answered both questions yes. Asked if she tested Frisbie’s blood for alcohol levels, she said she did not, but sent a sample of Frisbie’s blood to the appropriate lab for testing.
“His blood alcohol level measured .127,” said Catellier.
“For comparison, the legal limit for driving is .08,” said Adams. “So Frisbie’s blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.”